Offer your patients technology similar to online retailers, along with your professional expertise, and it will be a win-win for everyone.
It’s easy to think that traditional optical retail is going to disappear and online eyewear sales will conquer the market. This emerging category is something to be aware of and understood, but not feared. What’s more, your patients may find interactive frame try-on features fun, which means an increased revenue stream for your practice. If you want to get in on the action, here are some virtual try-on systems you should know about.
This multifaceted website offers a couple of eyewear e-solutions. FitPhoto allows users to upload a headshot (or use a model’s face) and virtually try on frames. Imagine having this tool on your website so that patients can try on frames you carry! In a live format called FitLive, the technology serves as a virtual mirror where patients can take images of themselves wearing several eyewear options. As a result, when a nearsighted patient puts her eyeglasses back on, she’ll be able to clearly see herself.
VSP has tossed its hat into the electronic eyewear ring with eyecon!c. This site is a multifaceted portal where patients can find a local VSP doctor, order contacts, select Rx glasses online, and even use their own VSP annual insurance benefits to pay for the goods.
The virtual try-on section contains Marchon Eyewear and VSP-affiliate frames, and allows the user to upload a photo to superimpose frames on, or use one of eight eyeglass models instead. The user can purchase their selection as a frame only, or can add a prescription, PD, and select from lens materials and other add-on options.
MY ONLINE OPTICAL
Depending on how much or little you want to do, Essilor of America, Inc.’s My Online Optical can be customized to meet your needs. You choose the products you want to offer (process the lenses, fabricate the eyeglasses, add the lens treatments, etc.) and Essilor will construct your website. Its virtual try-on technology uses face recognition software and a scaling technique. Choosing frames virtually is done in a fashion similar to other online retailers where the wearer places a virtual frame on a picture that they’ve uploaded. Measurements for bifocals and progressives are done using a mathematical statistical model that provides averaged data from thousands of other users.
Most ECPs dislike online eyewear sales because they feel the accuracy of measurements is questionable and there is no interaction with a professional eyecare provider. Iristocracy is an online fashion and accessories retailer that offers the consumer eyewear only-no lenses. Shoppers buy a frame on the Iristocracy website and take it to their optical professional for measurements and to have the lenses dispensed. In addition to a virtual try-on feature, the company offers a Retail Try-On Kit where up to four frames are shipped to a retail eyecare office the buyer specifies. It’s a clever way to avoid the issues of poor measurements and on professional involvement.
Online optical retailers are here to stay, but the good news: While the electronic eyewear market will continue to evolve, replacing tried-and-true opticians in brick-and-mortar stores will take more than just an app.
Francis Gimbel, Jr. is a licensed optician and owner of Gimbel Eye Associates in Wayne, PA.
My Online Optical 888-409-6977 • myonlineoptical.com